Students plan protest of Prop. 300
The Arizona Daily Star
Apr. 24, 2007


Illegal entrants pay out-of-state college tuition

By Eric Swedlund  

Tucson, Arizona | Published:

Local college and high school students are using a planned May Day immigration rally to renew protests against Proposition 300 and the negative impact they say the law will have on thousands of students.

Passed by 70 percent of Arizona voters last November, the law prohibits illegal immigrants from paying in-state tuition at public universities or community colleges, or from receiving state financial aid.

The law has "created Border Patrol checkpoints out of our academic institutions," said Wesley Creigh, a Pima Community College student and organizer of a Monday rally calling for college and high school students to walk out next Tuesday to protest the implementation of Proposition 300.

The law penalizes students who have lived nearly their entire lives in Arizona, moving as young children when their families immigrated, Creigh said.

"They'll be pushed into the military and low-paying jobs, and be a more exploitable work force as a result," Creigh said. "We don't want to support this kind of discrimination and segregation in our schools."

Both the University of Arizona and Pima Community College have put implementation plans in place, relying primarily on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to verify students are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates. Continuing students who seek in-state tuition but don't have a FAFSA on file are being notified that they must present other documents to prove they're eligible.

Nonresident tuition at the state's universities is about three times the roughly $5,000 that in-state students pay, while out-of-state students at Pima pay about five times what their in-state counterparts are charge in tuition.

"This bill predetermines students for failure," said Leilani Clark, a Tucson High Magnet School student and member of MEChA — Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán.

MEChA estimates 150,000 students statewide will be negatively affected by the law, said Mark "Nacho" Bueno, a MEChA member who attends the UA.

There are about 600,000 public college and university students in Arizona. Colleges and universities have no formal estimates of the number of affected students. The actual number may never be known, because the law requires only that colleges and universities report the number of students denied in-state tuition or state financial aid, and does not track those who drop out in anticipation of denial or to conceal their immigration status.

The May 1 rally will start at 8 a.m. at the Southgate Shopping Center, at South Sixth Avenue and 44th Street. It will continue with a march to the Federal Building Downtown and a noon rally at Armory Park.

● Contact reporter Eric Swedlund at 573-4115 or at